Welcoming a diverse gathering of hardcore cinephiles, independent movie buffs and filmmakers from both above and below the line to an informational preview of this coming week’s presentation of the 2023 Burbank International Film Festival, the organization’s President Kurt Patino made one thing paramount during his opening remarks.
“This festival — the screenings, the parties, panel discussions, workshops, the gala awards ceremony — everything that will take place this week is not an insider’s industry thing,” he told those who had gathered in the community room of the Buena Vista Branch Library last week.
“This festival, our 15th, is something the entire Burbank community should be interested in and get engaged with.”
Following his welcome, Patino was joined for a panel discussion by the festival’s director of submissions and programming Brad Bucklin, and Lana Ford, who serves as the director of marketing and was referred to by Patino as their “Swiss Army Knife” in that she can do anything needed.
“This will be a very special year in that Burbank’s own Tim Burton will be a part of our festival and gala,” said Patino. “It will also be special in that the categories of films which have been selected are so wide, from comedy, drama, horror, thrillers, action adventures, fantasy, and faith-based, to sci-fi, LGBTQ+, documentary and animation. It would be impossible for people not to love one or more of our selected films.”
Along with providing insight on what to expect during this year’s festival, the trio spoke of their commitment to the festival’s host city explaining their desire to help young people learn the craft of filmmaking by getting more involved with students in the Burbank Unified School District and local service clubs.
As an example of the festival’s commitment to young filmmakers, the audience was shown a clip that featured Violet Zeug, a high school student who was the winner of the Young Filmmaker Award at the 2022 Burbank International Film Festival for her film, “In Your Head,” which chronicles the pressures and stresses that burden today’s teenage girls.
“Violet was one of many young people who had a difficult time during the pandemic,” Patino explained. “But having submitted her film, having it accepted and then winning really brought her out of her shell.”
Once the evening’s Q&A period began, the event’s moderator, librarian Hubert Kozak, was kept hopping from one side of the room to the other as the festival executives were peppered with questions ranging from audience participation at screenings, the creation and quality control of digital cinema packages, criteria for film selection, how the judging process works, and internships and volunteer opportunities in marketing, web design, social media, grant writing and script reading.
Ashley Rodriguez, who serves as the director of accessible communication for the city of Los Angeles, asked about the festival’s future plans to provide subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, and the incorporation of narrative description soundtracks for those who are blind or low vision.
“This is something we are very interested in exploring. To better understand how the technology works and how was can incorporate it into the festival,” said Patino.
Along with learning about how the festival is organized, information on how to best navigate the week’s numerous events, how to get the most out of the experience, and insights on some of the highlights of this year’s films, Patino, Bucklin and Ford encouraged everyone to come to this year’s opening night reception on Sept. 21, from 8 p.m. to midnight at Urban Press Winery, 316 N. San Fernando Blvd.
Patino especially recommended that people come to the Marriott Burbank Convention Center at 2500 N. Hollywood Way for the festival’s awards gala on Sept. 24.
“Following the red-carpet arrivals, dinner will be served at 6 p.m.,” said Patino. “After dinner, the Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg will conduct an on-stage interview with Tim Burton, and the awards ceremony will start at 8 p.m. I can assure, you, once you have attended this event, you will be hooked on what we are doing.”
This year’s gala, which will laud the participating international filmmakers in more than 20 categories, will be hosted by Patino’s wife, actress Kelly Stables, best-known for her role as Alan Harper’s secretary Mellissa in CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.”
With a mission to promote and support inclusive and culturally diverse perspectives and content in cinematic storytelling, the Burbank International Film Festival recognizes the work of well-established filmmakers as well as emerging talent by providing them with a gateway to expand their careers in the entertainment industry and assist them with funding and distribution for their cinematic art. This year the festival will present more than 130 feature and short films at the Burbank AMC 16 Theaters.
For more information on tickets for attendance for all festival events that will begin on Sept. 21 and run through Sept. 24, or to get involved with the festival’s volunteer and sponsorship opportunities and ongoing programs, visit burbankfilmfest.org.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at email@example.com or (818) 563-1007.
First published in the September 16 print issue of the Burbank Leader.